Salvation Army Red Kettles Coming Up Short

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Salvation Army officials in our area say they saw less cash in their iconic red kettles this season.

Officials here in Scranton say their worst year ever for Red Kettle donations was last year. They were able to rebound a bit this year, but they are still plagued by some problems that are going to affect their bottom line.

It's a fundraising campaign more than 140 years running -- red kettles collecting cash for the Salvation Army.

"I like the customers, seeing customers putting the money in the kettle. and smiling at the kids putting money in, giving them a lollipop," Theresa Healey said.

Theresa Healey and Sandra Hipsman are two of Lackawanna County's longest-serving bell ringers. They say they're still as busy each December but people seem to be giving less.

"Sometimes people are out of work. There's less work in the area, people are struggling themselves to make ends meet, and they don't always think of the Salvation Army, but sometimes the Salvation Army is there for them," Hipsman said.

Maj. Bob Schmig says the Red Kettle Campaign has been less successful in the past few years because it's been more difficult to find volunteers and they're running out of retail space.

"Last year, for instance, we lost the Kmarts, the two Kmarts here, of course, closed. That's been very difficult, trying to make that up. Just the overall decline, nationwide, of giving, particularly in eastern Pennsylvania, the giving has been down," said Schmig

Schmig says they're still counting the cash but the Scranton Salvation Army office may be as much as $20,000 short of its $160,000 goal this year.

"We most certainly are not going to trim back on help," said Schmig. "It's finding a way to make it work, somehow, someway."

Officials say since donations are still coming in, it's too early to talk about cutting back programs, but it's a possibility.

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